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5.5.06 Issue #217

Define the Rules of Engagement; Vision, Goals, Duties

Sally McKenzie, CEO
The McKenzie Company

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A few years ago, the Gallup Organization released the results of a poll indicating that nearly 25% of employees in the country are unclear about what they are expected to do, they don’t have the materials or tools necessary to carry out their responsibilities, or they are waiting for information from their boss. Worse yet, 70% of all employees are simply not engaged in their work. In other words, they don’t care. And if there is one element that every dental practice needs to succeed, it is a team of people that cares.

Do your employees know what is expected of them? Have you spelled out their duties? Have you given them the tools/training they need to succeed? Do they understand that your success is their success? Unfortunately, if yours is like too many practices, employees come in and are simply expected to hit the ground running.

Typically, if they’ve worked in another practice it’s just assumed they know what you want. If they aren’t carrying out responsibilities as they should be, the doctor or office manager might make a few casual references to improvements that could be made, thinking that should be enough for the employee to know what they need to fix. Meanwhile, the team member is waiting for direction, but when that direction never comes or, in some cases, is negative or demoralizing, they simply disengage themselves from the practice. They may continue showing up for work until something better comes along, but they don’t understand their role or see the value of their contribution to the practice.

Think about your team, do your employees know what is expected of them? Do they feel valued? Can they clearly see how they fit into your practice? Chances are pretty good there’s room for improvement. Start with your practice vision and goals, share them with the team and help each other remain focused on them. If you haven’t established a vision and practice goals, do so and involve the team in the process.

Help each employee understand their individual part in realizing the established objectives. Staff members who are able to see the relationship between their roles and practice goals are much more effective and far more motivated to succeed than those who feel they are just another cog in the wheel. 

Most importantly, give employees the direction they need to carry out their duties effectively. Employee job descriptions are essential for clearly articulating exactly what is expected and why carrying out specific duties is essential both to individual success and that of the practice. Involve the employee in developing the job description, which will encourage individual ownership and responsibility, and provide an example description such as the following:

  1. Define the job. Treatment Coordinator. Informs patients what treatment is required, the benefits of completing treatment, financial obligations and options available, schedules first appointment. Welcomes new patients to the practice and builds rapport with new and existing patients.
  2. Spell out specifically what skills are necessary for the position. Articulate, well organized, good listener, sensitive to patient concerns and objectives, ability to understand and clearly explain dental procedures. Ability to work with computer systems and dental software. Enjoys working with and helping others. Can handle rejection.
  3. Outline the specific duties and responsibilities of the job. Discuss treatment plans with doctor prior to meeting with patients. Prepare predeterminations. Conduct case presentations. Measure results using an established system and report regularly on results to the team. Monitor case acceptance. Enter patient treatment into computer system. Serve as a liaison with insurance companies regarding patient financial arrangements. Serve as communication liaison to the team and regularly report on concerns raised by patients to enable staff and doctor to address those issues. Provide other assistance as needed, including appointment confirmation, patient processing, and front desk and clinical assistance.

Take steps to spell out your expectations of employees, provide job descriptions, make every effort to emphasize each team member’s value to the office and watch them become far more engaged in their own jobs as well as the success of the entire practice.

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McKenzie Management's Seminar Schedule
2006 Location Sponsor Information Topic Speaker
May 5 Myrtle Beach, SC South Carolina Dental Association 312-440-2908 Breakdown

Sally McKenzie

May 13 Providence, CT Connecticut State Dental 877-777-6151 Top Issues

Sally McKenzie

May 17-19 San Diego, CA Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry* 877-777-6151 Exhibit Only


June 8-9 Santa Barbara,CA The Art of Endodontics 800-528-1590 Max. Prod.

Sally McKenzie

July 19 San Diego, CA San Diego Women Dental 858-755-9990 Leadership

Dr.Nancy Haller

Aug. 2-6 Denver, CO Academy of General Dentistry* 877-777-6151 TBA

Sally McKenzie

Aug 10-11 Santa Barbara, CA The Art of Endodontics 800-528-1590 Max. Prod.

Sally McKenzie

Sept. 15-17 San Francisco, CA California Dental Association* 877-777-6151 Exhibit Only


Sept 21-22 Santa Barbara, CA The Art of Endodontics 800-528-1590 Max. Prod.

Sally McKenzie

Sept. 29-30 Oviedo, Spain Clinica Sicilia 877-777-6151 Over/Top Issue

Sally McKenzie

Oct. 7-8 Krakow, Poland UNO Dental 877-777-6151 TBA

Sally McKenzie

Nov. 8 San Diego, CA San Diego Women's Dental 858-755-9990 Top Issues

Sally McKenzie

Nov. 17 Concord, NH New Hampshire Dental Society 312-440-2908 Breakdown

Sally McKenzie

Dec. 7-8 Santa Barbara,CA The Art of Endodontics 800-528-1590 Max. Prod.

Sally McKenzie

* McKenzie Management will be exhibiting at this location

McKenzie Management
A Division of The McKenzie Company, Inc.

3252 Holiday Court, Suite 110

La Jolla, CA 92037

For more information, email
or call 1-877-777-6151

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